West Desert is located in west-central Utah, approximately 160km southwest of Salt Lake City.
The deposit is part of a regional scale mineral system with multiple styles of mineralisation and potential for several deposits of base and precious metals.
Historical exploration has established a large porphyry related, zinc-polymetallic skarn and carbonate replacement deposit.
Maiden Resource Estimate
In February 2023, the company announced its Maiden independent JORC 2012 Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE)1 for the West Desert Project, consisting of defines 33.7Mt @ 3.83% Zn, 0.15% Cu and 9.1g/t Ag, which includes:
- 18.7Mt @ 2.8% Zn, 0.12% Cu and 11g/t Ag contained within open-pit
- 15Mt @ 5.2% Zn, 0.18% Cu and 7g/t Ag contained within underground mine plan
The MRE contains 1.3Mt of zinc, 50Kt of copper and 10Moz of silver, which represents a significant 44% increase over the Foreign 2014 resource.
Indium was not estimated in MRE despite significant historically reported volumes. This represents a further opportunity to add value to the resource.
West Desert has a large and coherent orebody which supports a range of potential near-term, low-cost and high-margin development options.
Excellent metallurgical recoveries from sulphide and oxide ores and 55% Zn and 32% Cu concentrates with traditional processing techniques.
The near-term focus will be on expanding mineral resources. Pre-feasibility studies are underway with a focus on bulk open-pit resources with a high-grade underground development. Drilling is scheduled to recommence during Q2 2023
The mineralisation at West Desert is currently located within two distinct zones, the Main Zone and the Deep Zone, and these are open at depth, and along strike to the east and west.
There is considerable potential to significantly expand the maiden resource as Indium has not been included in the MRE at this stage due to data gaps in historical drilling.
The newly identified high-grade ‘Copper Zone’, where drilling returned results such as 17.22m grading 1.04% copper, 0.58g/t gold and 12.46g/t silver from a down-hole depth of 325.21m, has not being included in the resource.
Previous economic studies have show around 28Mt of iron ore (grading up to 68%) could also be recovered.
Strategic Indium Resource
Indium is present in unusually high levels within Zinc minerals at West Desert.
The historical resource included an indium inventory of 1,534 tonnes contained metal, which is one of the largest undeveloped indium resources in the world.
Less than 35% of drill hole samples for the historical resource were assayed for indium, indicating potential to significantly increase the indium resource at West Desert with further sampling, exploration and studies.
Indium is widely used in the electronics and semiconductor industries for the use in low carbon technology including batteries.
The US Department of the Interior has included indium as one of 35 mineral commodities considered critical to the economic and national security of the United States. Currently, the US is a 100% net importer of indium.
West Desert Exploration
West Desert is part of regional scale porphyry intrusive mineral system that has the potential to host multiple deposits of different mineralization styles. As such, there is potential for new discoveries to be made at the Project in addition to the MRE.
West Desert is significantly underexplored with less than 10% of the project area explored with drilling.
Modern electromagnetics and gravity geophysical techniques have not been utilized for exploration at West Desert, providing potential for these modern exploration methods to identify additional mineralization.
American West has established a portfolio of exploration targets at West Desert which will be systematically tested using drilling and geophysics.
Logistics in Place
West Desert has an established camp comprising accommodation and work facilities that are suitable for exploration and feasibility work that American West intends to conduct.
West Desert has access to roads linking to major cities and rail hubs. Infrastructure and utilities are established with electricity connected to the project site and long-term water rights in place.
In addition, West Desert is well located for future development and has received strong support from the local and federal government.
1Refer to ASX announcement dated 9 February 2023